U.S. Army “fences off” military diplomacy from sequester

In the Asia-Pacific region, the U.S. Army will not cut spending on military diplomacy, the senior-level exchanges, exercises and other face-to-face interactions that commanders say they must continue to maintain the trust of U.S. allies. "We’ve been able to fence our engagements throughout our theater of operations," said Lt. Gen. Francis Wiercinski, commander of U.S. ...

U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod
U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod
U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod

In the Asia-Pacific region, the U.S. Army will not cut spending on military diplomacy, the senior-level exchanges, exercises and other face-to-face interactions that commanders say they must continue to maintain the trust of U.S. allies.

In the Asia-Pacific region, the U.S. Army will not cut spending on military diplomacy, the senior-level exchanges, exercises and other face-to-face interactions that commanders say they must continue to maintain the trust of U.S. allies.

"We’ve been able to fence our engagements throughout our theater of operations," said Lt. Gen. Francis Wiercinski, commander of U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC), including exercises. "Those will continue to move forward."

It’s yet another sign of the Pentagon’s commitment to the "rebalancing" and Asian regional security, the three-star commander said. Much of what the Army does in the Pacific is walled-off from the budget cuts required by sequester, including all funds for the defense of South Korea and extending to all of the "enabler" forces required to support that mission. That makes cuts in other areas even deeper, especially equipment maintenance, Wiercinksi said.

But he gave his personal commitment to continue senior-level face time across region’s militaries.

"That’s the part I’ve been able to fence, because I believe that’s one of our primary missions, and literally my primary mission in the theater," Wiercinski said, at the Pentagon on Monday. "I place so much emphasis on engagement and open communication, and partnering with allied friends and partners."

"In this business, with relationship building is building trust, and that’s the part I want to make sure we hold onto," he said. 

The USARPAC commander’s trust declaration comes a few weeks before one of the largest annual gatherings of Asia-Pacific military and defense officials, at the Shangri-La Dialogue, in Singapore. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is scheduled to deliver a keynote address during his first visit to the conference since taking office.

Kevin Baron is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy, covering defense and military issues in Washington. He is also vice president of the Pentagon Press Association. Baron previously was a national security staff writer for National Journal, covering the "business of war." Prior to that, Baron worked in the resident daily Pentagon press corps as a reporter/photographer for Stars and Stripes. For three years with Stripes, Baron covered the building and traveled overseas extensively with the secretary of defense and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, covering official visits to Afghanistan and Iraq, the Middle East and Europe, China, Japan and South Korea, in more than a dozen countries. From 2004 to 2009, Baron was the Boston Globe Washington bureau's investigative projects reporter, covering defense, international affairs, lobbying and other issues. Before that, he muckraked at the Center for Public Integrity. Baron has reported on assignment from Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and the South Pacific. He was won two Polk Awards, among other honors. He has a B.A. in international studies from the University of Richmond and M.A. in media and public affairs from George Washington University. Originally from Orlando, Fla., Baron has lived in the Washington area since 1998 and currently resides in Northern Virginia with his wife, three sons, and the family dog, The Edge. Twitter: @FPBaron

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